I rushed home yesterday thinking I'd find the kids dressed and ready to jump into the car and go to kenpo for testing.
They were not.
I found Alana on the floor of her room, crumpled on the floor crying.
"Moooommmm," she wailed with her head thrown back and the corners of her mouth turned down nearly touching the outline of her jaw.
"I can't dooooo this. I'm not reaaaaaady."
I knelt next to her and saw she was holding onto her written exam.
Kenpo consists of three parts: a physical exam, a skills test, and a written exam. Alana's written exam to move from peewee white to peewee yellow required her to memorize her birthdate, address, phone number and 9-1-1. It was 15 minutes till kenpo and she had not yet memorized her phone number.
"Alana," I said as I tried to stand her up, "It's just kenpo. And kenpo is about trying. Just do your best. It's just like when you kick, or punch, or block. You just do your best."
She was not convinced. As I tied up her gi she muttered, "I don't know why I even joined kenpo."
"Because it's fun", I said.
The image of my darling crumpled on the floor crying and so afraid to try because she might get it wrong or mess up - gosh - it's such a mirror for my own insecurities.
I can see myself crumpled up on the floor sobbing and afraid, and I can see my Creator hovering over and around me whispering, "It's just life! And life is about trying. Just do your best."
I'm thinking about how many times I've decided to just "not show up" for the tests of life because I didn't think I was ready. I was afraid I didn't know all the answers and I didn't want to take the chance on failing.
I'm thinking how many times I've put so much pressure on myself to go through the test with per-fec-tion. And how I've been shamed and felt ashamed that I was such a mess when going through the test - ashamed that I was sweaty, and tired, and stink. And I bet my Creator was saying, "You put way too much pressure on yourself. You're supposed to get sweaty and tired and stink. It's a test."
After an hour and a half of kenpo testing Alana was sweaty, tired, and stinky.
The instructors told her "Stand Strong", and she did.
Then she knelt in front of her instructors, untied her white belt, and they helped her tie her yellow belt.
She earned her rank.
The lessons of the peewee yellow belt are the words echoing still in the chambers of my soul.
The words are for me and the are the words for you.
Don't quit before you've even tried.
Darling, it's not that big of a deal! It's just a test.
Why are you putting so much pressure on yourself?
You just have to try. Just show up and do your best.
No, don't you quit.
Even if you don't pass this time - you'll get another try. You just keep trying - that's what it's all about.